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Formula 1

Hamilton vs Verstappen title battle attracts billions in audience figures

Formula 1 has released its audience figures for 2021, showing positive trends across almost all areas.

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To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Formula 1 has announced its audience and fan attendance figures for 2021, displaying significant growth of the sport on social media and television – social media, in particular, proving to be a hugely successful area.

Across a 22-race calendar in 2021, which climaxed in Abu Dhabi after a tremendous title battle between Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, F1 showed itself to be in robust health with strong TV and social media figures, as well as recovering fan attendance at races as the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

Social media sees huge increases

F1 became the fastest-growing major sport in the world in terms of follower growth.

F1 now has 49.1 million followers across the social media platforms, and claims the "highest engagement rate with social posts compared to other major sports in 2021".

The follower count across all major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitch, climbed by 40 per cent.

Video views on social media were up 50 per cent to 7.04 billion, while unique users were up 63 per cent. F1's official website also boasted increased pageviews, up 23 per cent.

F1 reported that, in the Chinese market, there was very strong digital growth. Across platforms like Weibo, WeChat, Toutiao, and Douyin, followers climbed by 39 per cent to reach 2.7 million – also outperforming other major sports.

TV audiences also climb

Unsurprisingly, given how the title fight between the two biggest names in F1 went down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, the TV audience figures for that race were the highest of the season.

108.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the title showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen, this figure being 29 per cent higher than for the same race in 2020.

Cumulatively, F1 attracted 1.55 billion TV viewers in 2021, four per cent higher than the 2020 total.

The Bahrain season opener pulled in 84.5 million viewers, while the three Sprint weekends also boasted high figures.

Silverstone had 79.5 million viewers, increasing to 80.4 million for Monza, with the Sao Paolo weekend climbing even higher to reach 82.1 million pairs of eyeballs.

Notable geographic market increases saw the Netherlands climb 81 per cent versus the 2021 season, fuelled by Verstappen's title fight, while the USA continued its upward momentum with a 58 per cent increase on the previous season.

Italy and the UK also increased, up 40 per cent and 39 per cent respectively.

In terms of unique viewers (the number of individuals tuning in for at least one race during the season), the figure increased by three per cent to reach 445 million. The biggest market was China, which was up 13 per cent.

Spain was up 272 per cent, Russia 129 per cent, and the USA up 53 per cent.

The average audience per Grand Prix in 2021 was 70.3 million.

Comparing like-for-like markets where broadcasting arrangements remained static, the figure was up 13 per cent from 2020 – the highest figure since 2013 at 60.3 million viewers. This does not include Brazil and Germany, where TV broadcast arrangements changed from 2020.

For instance, in Germany, Sky's cumulative audience increased by 55 per cent over their 2020 figures.

Race attendance figures marginally down on pre-COVID times

With 2021 seeing Grand Prix venues welcoming fans back en masse as the COVID-19 pandemic eased, Formula 1 had 2.69 million fans attend at least one race.

This figure is down on 2019, which had 4.16 million visitors, but some races in 2021 had limited capacities or were still held behind closed doors.

F1 expects demand to return to normal levels as the pandemic eases further.

Just three Grand Prix weekends accounted for almost a million visitors by themselves, attracting more than 300,000 fans each.

The USA was the most attended race of the year, pulling in 400,000 fans over the weekend. Mexico was second, with 371,000 visitors, and Silverstone in third place with 356,000. All three races boasted higher figures than the 2019 events.

A total of 11 races attracted more than 100,000 fans, with the rain-shortened Belgian GP the highest figure as 213,000 fans sat in the stands. Returning venue Zandvoort was up next, with 195,000 fans heading to the Dutch GP to cheer on Verstappen.

Turkey pulled in 190,000 fans, while new venue Saudi Arabia attracted 143,000 fans to visit the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

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